Phil Anselmo needs little introduction to metalheads. He is best known as the frontman of the platinum-selling titans Pantera, but there is also Down and Superjoint to name but a few of his well-known bands. He recently spoke with Hellbound’s Jay Gorania, a week before setting out with Superjoint on Danzig’s Blackest of the Black tour, addressing his annual Housecore Horror Film Festival, new projects including one with members of Cattle Decapitation and Pig Destroyer, and the recently-reignited national debate involving the Confederate flag.
Jay Gorania: You and I had a mutual friend in Corey Mitchell (true-crime author, metal journalist and Housecore Horror Film Festival co-founder) who has unfortunately passed on. I extend my condolences. What was it about Housecore Fest, following his passing, that made it something that you felt was worth carrying on?
Phil Anselmo: Because I did not come up with the idea. The idea was absolutely 100 percent Corey Mitchell’s, and I was, like, in agreement, but half-heartedly. I was thinking, “This guy is just a crazy dreamer.” Next thing I know, it’s real. Next thing I know, he is the hardest working cat that wants this thing to really be something. Before we even showed up to year one, weeks in advance he was, “Phil, we can do this in a different town each year, every couple years. And we can take it to Europe.” I’m, like, “Slow down, please! You crazy dreamer, you!” Make no mistake at all. This year, year three, is absolutely dedicated to Corey Mitchell, because of these things. And oh my lord, dare I say I was going to duck out on year three, because I do believe in my truest of hearts he would have risen from the grave and came and strangled me in the night had I not done year three. So hey, this one’s for Corey, and this is 100 percent true that he would want us to continue on. So this one’s for him.
JG: Is there anything in particular that you are really looking forward to checking out this year?
PA: Absolutely. First and foremost, I think the entire bill speaks for itself, and everybody with eyes and anybody that knows extreme music, they know these bands. And if they don’t, then they’re in for a fantastic occasion. As far as what I”m looking forward to, look no further than King Diamond himself. Give me a break. On Friday the 13th? You gotta love it! The King! Good lord! Bring it on! And I will say I’ve seen the King many times throughout his career. I was a young buck in a pair of striped spandex in 1985 opening for King Diamond on the Fatal Portrait tour, and I’ve seen him after that. But two years ago, Down had the honor of being his main support in Copenhagen, Denmark, and this was his first show basically in his backyard in 12 years, and it was incredible. It sounded like an album, the quality of the band, the tightness of the band, the presentation, the King himself. He can do no wrong. It was incredible. So to have him on the bill is an incredible honor, but I can say that about a lot of the bands as well. I don’t even know where to start, but we have a solid line-up, and I’m just ecstatic about it really.
The older the King gets, well, he’s not really showing it. His performances are still as great as they ever were.
No. Actually they are better. I’m telling you that. I’ve seen him through the years. He’d miss a lot of nights. (laughter) But the same can be said about myself, probably more misses than hits. But hey, it’s live. You’re supposed to get something different. But, with the King, you’ve got to look for perfection because of all of the different intricacies of the stuff that he does. He’s doing it and nailing it right now in 2015.
Corey was writing the book about you. Do you believe that will ever see the light of day?
No. I don’t want to. Not right now. And if I change mind, then I’ll change my mind. But that was something Corey and I were doing together. I feel like I’m very free with the press. You guys can ask me fucking anything in the world, and I’ll be 1000 percent honest. I guess it’s only human nature to want to keep certain aspects of your life private and not put under scrutiny because you think or believe or have lived a certain way at certain times in your life. People change as we grow. So, I just don’t see the relevance of it right now. Maybe when I’m older I may change my mind.
A major national discussion, or debate, if you will, revolves around the rebel flag, which has been associated with old Pantera merch and on Dime’s guitar. How has your view evolved or stayed the same regarding the rebel flag?
Really, in all honesty, when one of my friends and bandmates back many, many years ago would fly the confederate colors or whatnot, I didn’t think two things about it. It was done with a sense of, at the time especially, Southern pride, Southern heritage. We were from the South. And we took pride in that as a band. That’s where my mentality was. I guess I can’t speak for everybody else, but for me it was like, “We’re from the South.” So be it. And the fact that people want to do away with it today, you know honestly I’m not attached to any flag, man. I’m really not. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not a disgruntled American outright. Of course things are not perfect with our country, but I also realize that this country has given me the opportunities afforded to let me be who I am today and continue on no matter how hard it gets or how easy. So honestly, the flag issue to me is a long winded, “No comment.” I don’t give a fuck. Truthfully.
Nowadays, some people say it’s hate, some people say it’s heritage. If you walked into a bar and saw it, what would your immediate impression be? Is it hate, or heritage?
I never saw it as hate, so I guess to my eyes it would have been a heritage thing. And again, individuals are individuals, and they can value certain items under their own wall and roof, so that’s on them. I’m not a political person by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve read in certain comment sections that I’m a copout, or I’ve backed off on the subject or whatever, and I call baloney. Because I am absolutely 100 percent proud of where I come from, who I am, what my values are, and what I stand for. And that’s a complex issue. Human beings are very complex. I think we live in a very, very over-analyzing society today where things like, see right there: the complexity of why people want the confederate flag down. It’s too much to debate for me. Fuck it. Once again, it’s too much to think about, and I’ve got more pressing shit to do like write music and fucking do gigs and throw horror fests. Shit that I care about, man.
One of those things you that you care about is Superjoint.
And look. Hold on, and I’ll end this tirade like this, man. I love what I love. And what doesn’t matter, doesn’t mean that it’s not important or whatnot. Not at all. That’s that, man. Fucking, I hold no value in material things, so to speak. I like MP3s of new music way better, man. (laughter) So yea, I just got back from practice, Jay.
You’re about to do some shows. What’s on the horizon beyond shows and playing the fest? What’s going on with the prospect of new material?
We are writing new stuff, and I would personally really like to write after horror fest. That’s the holiday season: November/December. I would like to work through and get a record finished and get something done, and then next year concentrate on the new Down EP. And also I’ve been working on a couple different projects, as well as new Illegals. So I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. But really, while Pepper’s busy with COC, I would love to be writing new Superjoint and actually get fucking done, because in my opinion it doesn’t need to be a 15-song record, man. Like I said, I’m into EPs. Just get something out there.
Speaking of some of the other projects and things you’re working on, your drummer Joey Gonzalez has spoken with me about some death metal that you and him have been working on. And I wanted to mention the project Scour (also including Derek from Cattle Decapitation and Chase from Animosity on guitars, Jesse from Strong Intention/Cast The Stone on drums, and John from Pig Destroyer/Agoraphobic Nosebleed/Fulgora on bass).
(laughter) You already got wind of that one, too. The death metal thing, well really it’s tracked and, in my opinion, finished. It’s a matter of negotiation now between me and one of the other members of when and why and what and band names and all. It’s all political stuff and semantics. Other than that, the Scour thing was something that just popped up, and it’s something that I think I can kill, something I can lay it out. They’re short songs. It’s a short EP, and that’s something I can knock out, I guess, after the Danzigs tour. And yes, I said Danzigs, and that’s a long story.
What style is Scour?
I think (there’s) one of the fellows from Cattle Decapitation, but it’s predominantly, in my ear, modern-ish black metal-sounding, thrashy black metal type stuff. I’m going to put my own spin on it. I don’t have to sound like your boy from Gorgoroth (laughter) to get the point across, man. There’s other ways of singing over that style of music, and I shall employ many styles.
Catch Phil Anselmo on tour with Superjoint this fall:
Oct. 02 – Window Rock, AZ @ Window Rock Sports Center (w Prong)
Oct. 10 – Atlanta, GA @ Center Stage ( W/ Prong & Witch Mountain)
Oct. 15 – Norfolk, VA @ Norva (W/ Prong & Witch Mountain)
Oct. 30 – Sacramento CA @ Ace Of Spades ( W/ Prong)
And Superjoint supporting Danzig on the Blackest of the Black tour:
Oct. 03 – Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
Oct. 05 – Austin, TX @ Stubbs Waller Creek Amphitheatre
Oct. 07 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall
Oct. 09 – New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre
Oct. 11 – Birmingham, AL @ Iron City
Oct. 12 – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
Oct. 14 – Charlotte, NC @ the Fillmore
Oct. 16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Oct. 17 – Worcester, MA @ “Rock & Shock” the Palladium
Oct. 18 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
Oct. 20 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre
Oct. 21 – New York, NY @ Best Buy Theatre
Oct. 23 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
Oct. 24 – Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
Oct. 25 – Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium
Oct. 27 – Boulder, CO @ Boulder Theatre
Oct. 29 – San Jose, CA @ City National Civic
Oct. 31 – Los Angeles, CA @ Microsoft Theatre
The Housecore Horror Festival III is Friday, November 13 to Sunday, November 15 in San Antonio, TX.